Galacon forced an introvert to play socialite for a weekend—and he loved it. There is hardly a place where that would’ve been possibly for me, but last weekend’s convention in Stuttgart, Germany, was one of them.
As press I was able to interview the six guests of honor, Anneli Heed, the famous Swedish Spitfire as well as several other Equestrians; Julia Meynen, the German Twilight Sparkle; Icky, producer of hardstyle, eurodance, and much more who made me wish I knew more about those genres or even music in general; Mr. Poniator, who allowed me some insight into the genesis of his animations; Rautakoura, whose work The Mane 6, Suited and Suave I eventually decided should become my Galacon memento; and SweBow, whose Legends of Equestria team presented their progress on their grand-scale game development project, and with monetary and other donations easily added two grand to our charity budget. These interviews are going to go up over the coming weeks as the editing takes time.
By now I actually find it hard to recall many of the details of the weekend although no more than a week has passed. The social context of the convention stands in such stark contrast to my usual life that now that I have returned, the memories lose their hold all too easily—hang on a tenuous gossamer of association, then slip away into oblivion. I’m not new to this problem. However, even without Severian’s eidetic memory, I clearly remember how I arrived at the venue on Friday and spent a few hours getting to know the several buildings of the youth hostel so I wouldn’t time-consumingly get lost in them during the convention, and how, when Luna spread the cloth of night over the city, a group of Croatian bronies started marathoning Friendship is Witchcraft. (See also the addendum.)
Early on Saturday, I was able to take a sneak peek at the still-complete line-ups of merch in the vendors room (they would be mostly sold out two hours later), got to know the BronyCon Documentary folks, sign a T-shirt (How crazy is that?), and then attended the “opening ceremony.” Surprisingly, I had slept well that night—“surprisingly,” because I only had a few more hours left before I would conduct the first interview of my life. Reluctantly, I snuck out during the Legends of Equestria panel, to prepare for the interview; then it started.
I had thought that we press ponies would lead individual interviews with the guests of honor during this exclusive “Green Room Panel,” but it turned out that we were instead to take turns with our questions, which has the advantage that everyone got to record every answer. There is a certain category of questions that, I imagine, interviewers are often loath to ask, questions that you hear answered at the beginning of practically every interview: “How long have you been [whatever it is they do]ing,” “How did you discover your talent for [ditto]ing,” and the like. In the case of Anneli Heed and Julia Meynen, however, I was unable to find satisfactory answers to them in my research, so I didn’t feel too stupid when it turned out that it would be me who was to ask them. Their answers certainly made up for the inane questions, and I had many more up my four-page sleeve.
With the big interview behind me, I spent Saturday evening and much of Sunday conducting the individual interviews with the community guests of honor. While I could usually think of one decent segue per interview, this number decreased rapidly as the hours progressed—despite the espresso. (Luckily we usually have Gendid for this sort of thing.) Those interviews will be published in due time; they still need to be edited into shape.
After more intriguing panels, the first day of Galacon culminated in the “Gala Ball”—not something I’d usually be drawn to, but I found that apart from the dancing, such a ball also involved a lot of random hugging accompanied by pony music. Another wonderful experience.
The Sunday was first and foremost the day of our charity auction. As a member of Bronies for Good and board member of Your Siblings, I already expected the auction to become the single most momentous event for me at the Gala. Little did I know. After a hastened meal I hastened downstairs and was promptly greeted by Perry who asked me if I could join her on stage to introduce Bronies for Good, Your Siblings, the Seeds of Kindness fundraiser, and the project that was to receive the donations. Though I was reasonably confident in my knowledge of the topic and of the English language, stages, microphones, and speaking were among the things I habitually shunned.
My intro went well enough and it was time for Perry with her silver tongue to take over.
As activist in the area of charity work you are too often confronted with people who either don’t help at all, or for who their support is only a means to better their public image or that of a group they represent. I can’t find fault with enjoying those perks at times, but centrally your motivation should always be born of your love for those you help. Of that love I have felt plenty that afternoon—so overwhelmingly even that I almost cried several times:
A Flim cosplayer donating his hat, praising its value, and then buying it right back; friends pooling their money and driving the auction into vertiginous heights; someone winning a Canni figurine and donating it back; Perry bowing to public demand and spontaneously donating her beloved hat (signed of course) to vie with Weatherhoof’s; and one person repeatedly winning items for friends who couldn’t keep up with the bidding and directly gifting them to them. In total, the auction generated €8145 (about $10,060) for the expansion of the orphanage in Uganda. On behalf of the project, I extend my warmest thanks to these people, to everyone who participated in the auction, to all those who donated in kind, and of course to the organizers!
Pretty early on Monday, JayJay and I brought the money to the bank, a small adventure in itself, and then, during the hours I waited for my lift to Berlin, I started catching up on the thousands of messages I had missed during the weekend. My thoughts, however, lingered on Galacon, the one I had just experienced and the one I was looking forward to next year. The Galacon team had paid close attention to the problems that became apparent during the weekend. Before the con even they had already made plans to move to a larger venue that would grant the vendor and buyers the room they needed, and plans to streamline the admission system. They’ll hopefully also be able to provide two separate Internet connections for the visitors, and for critical applications like game presentations and streams. Finally, based on the level of interest and participation in this years events, they’ll also be able to fine-tune the schedule of Galacon 2013, which will mark the 30th anniversary of My Little Pony.
Monday night, after our diver had safely steered us through the traffic for seven hours, I even gave him a good-bye hug. Galacon changed me.